March 21st, 1986. C/Z Records released the legendary Deep Six compilation album which features the early recordings of a handful of bands that would later become key figures in grunge, and helped establish its concepts and sound.
Deep Six essentially introduced the world to the scene. In 1986, the Melvins, Soundgarden, Skin Yard, Green River, Malfunkshun, and U-Men began brainstorming ways to save the masses from Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet. Thankfully C/Z Records were on hand to release their efforts.
The album was compiled by Seattle locals Chris Hanzsek and Tina Casale of CZ Records to showcase what was going on in the Seattle rock community at this time by drawing on the talents of six like-minded bands. “I really liked Green River,” says Casale. “They had great energy and played some really cool original songs.” Green River would help the fledgling label put together the rest of the compilation.
“Tina and I took direct input from Jeff Ament and Mark Arm in Green River,” recalls Hanzsek. “I’d worked with Green River previously (on their 1984 demo and their debut EP Come On Down EP in 1985) and I was also in the habit of printing band stickers and that sort of thing for the guys. The conversations culminated in ‘Okay! We’re starting a label. Let’s do a comp to expose it to the world! Who do you guys think should be on it?’”
Hanzsek and Casale met with each of the bands individually to discuss the project. In addition to Green River, and Soundgarden, they talked to Malfunkshun, the Melvins, Skin Yard and the U-Men. All six bands would agree to record for the album. The album may not have been a commercial success; however, it is vital to the history of grunge.
The Melvins were at that time considered one of Seattle’s top underground bands. On Deep Six they dole out slabs of molton, sludgy riffs with the songs “Scared”, “Blessing the Operation”, “Grinding Process” and “She Waits”.
Soundgarden provided the songs “Heretic”, “All Your Lies” and “Tears To Forget”. Having formed only a year before, they were already showing signs of their brilliance. This was a pre-Matt Cameron version of the band with Scott Sundquist on drums (Matt was still in Skin Yard at this stage, so he’s still on this album, just not in Soundgarden). A re-recorded version of “All Your Lies” (with new drummer Matt Cameron in place) appears on their 1988 album Ultramega OK. A re-recorded version of “Tears to Forget” (also with Cameron) appears on their 1987 EP Screaming Life.
The U-Men blend minimalist punk and “Sabbath” style metal with the song “They”.
Skin Yard’s guitarist, Jack Endino, would go on to record and produce many of the most legendary Seattle bands. Helping to document and establish Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and Nirvana’s sound. His band Skin Yard provided two belters with the songs “Throb” and “The Birds”
Green River had released its debut EP Come On Down several months before Deep Six. Members the band would later form Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam and Mudhoney. Here they offer up “10,000 Things” and “Your Own Best Friend”
Andrew Wood’s band Malfunkshun, are represented with two tracks, “With Yo’ Heart (Not Yo’ Hands)” and “Stars-N-You” Andrew would later form Mother Love Bone with Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of Green River.
“I am surprised when someone contacts us and wants to know about the record…and it keeps happening,” says Casale years later. “I got 20 minutes of fame from Deep Six, and I’m proud to have been a part of it.”
“I saw the Deep Six album in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the Seattle section, so you know it made an impact.”